468 Retail and Channel Management Blog

Thursday, February 4, 2016

H&M: Giving Customers a Ticket to the 'Balmain Army'

In 2004, fast fashion giant H&M recognized the need to bring exclusive brands to the hands of the average, fashion conscious consumer and paired up with Karl Lagerfeld and Chanel to introduce a collaborative limited edition collection between the two companies.

Ever since then, H&M has had a yearly collection where they pair up with a notable, high-end designer to produce a limited edition collection that their customers can purchase. It has been such a successful initiative that it attracts the typical H&M client but also an entirely new demographic of women and men who wouldn’t otherwise shop at the ‘fast fashion’ retailer.

In 2015, H&M had one of their most successful campaigns when they partnered with Balmain and their creative director, Olivier Rousteing. Balmain has become a household name by creating fairytale like pieces of exclusive fashion. It is worn by all of today’s ‘it girls’ and is showcased by countless celebrities and models through Instagram and other social media platforms. Being such a exclusive brand, Rousteing has created the phrase 'Balmain Army', which includes anyone lucky enough to own or wear one of the pieces. The catch with Balmain, similar to other high-end labels, is that their pieces are in the five digit price range. By working together, H&M and Balmain were able to allow typical, middle class consumers to finally become apart of the invite only clique.

In order to get consumers excited and aware of the upcoming collaboration, both companies had to work together to create a story for the campaign. They recognized that simply releasing the clothes would not be enough. The collection deserved the same type of hype and attention that the regular high-fashion collections received. Their story became one of an everyday woman conquering the world, one exquisitely designed piece of clothing at a time. To show this story they created a promotion video that featured model of the moment Kendall Jenner as her and her friends conquered different groups of people while riding on the subway. Since it's release, the video has been viewed over six million times. 

By recruiting top-notch talent, such as models Kendall Jenner and Gigi Hadid, to advertise the collection, H&M was able to connect with consumers on a personal level. The collection was brought to phones, computers and everyday conversations before it even reached the stores.

More importantly, Balmain became more accessible to the everyday consumer. The brand recognized the values and beliefs of typical women and men, who wanted to wear fairytale like clothing at an affordable price. It was said, “The designer’s goal was to give the H&M customer spending $200 the same feeling and experience of a Balmain customer spending $20,000” (Sherman, Business of Fashion).

Personally, I never would have known about the H&M/Balmain campaign had it not been for their strategic marketing approach. I don’t follow any clothing companies on Twitter or Instagram, but I do follow models such as Kendall and Gigi. Myself, along with countless other women look to these people for fashion inspiration, and when I found out that I could finally own something that someone with over 48 million followers on Instagram had, I immediately started researching when the pieces would be released.  Rousteing allowed consumers to become apart of the exclusive clique, if only for a limited time. And these efforts paid off, since as of October, 2015, the collaboration had already been tagged in more than 12,800 posts on social media (Sherman, Business of Fashion). This was an impressive feat, as the collection was not to arrive in stores till November of 2015.

The story H&M and Balmain were able to create transformed the retail juggernaut, if only temporarily, into an exclusive store. It made the ‘out-of-reach’ brand more approachable to the everyday consumer. They got consumers to believe that by buying these pieces they would somehow become apart of the ‘Balmain Army'. H&M has clearly found a successful formula that allows their consumers to feel apart of a world that many of us only dream to experience, which will keep me coming back to their stores.

Sources: http://www.businessoffashion.com/articles/intelligence/business-logic-balmain-hm-olivier-rousteing-designer-collaborationhttp://www.vogue.com.au/fashion/news/your+guide+to+joining+olivier+rousteings+balmain+army,38265 http://www.vogue.com.au/fashion/news/balmain+for+h+m+is+completely+sold+out+how+it+went+crazy+around+the+world+,37814 http://www.businessinsider.com/fast-fashion-companies-are-selling-expensive-clothes-2016-1 


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